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The Super Bowl 51 line remains essentially where it opened with New England a 3 point favorite over Atlanta. 

Some Books have altered the standard minus 110 vig attached to each side in an attempt to better balance their liability. This technique, which has become more commonplace over the past decade, allows the Books to wait as long as possible before moving off the key number of 3. 

To a lesser extent this technique is also used for the second most common result, 7. Thus a book that has been flooded with wagers on New England may now offer New England -120 with the takeback on Atlanta at even money rather than move the line to New England 3.5. A book heavily loaded with Atlanta money at plus 3 might adjust their line to Atlanta +3 at minus 120 vig with those looking to back the Patriots able to lay -3 at even money.

One independent Book in Las Vegas, Treasure Island, opened the line at New England -3.5 at -110 each way. After dropping the line to -3 for a brief time within the first 24 hours of wagering activity the TI line looking to attract money on the Patriots is back to -3.5 at +120. Atlanta is +3.5 at -140 vig.

Of course, perhaps not even 10 percent of the final handle on the game had been bet on the game through the first week of Super Bowl wagering.

There is some conjecture that we might see a line of Patriots -3.5 at some point in the final 48 hours or so prior to kickoff but it is unlikely to ever hit -4. If it does, those looking to back the Falcons will pounce on +4 and that line, if it occurs, shall have a very brief shelf life.

The Total, which opened at 57 has settled in at 59. As the public money flows in over the next six days the total could conceivably hit 60 before what would likely be a push towards the UNDER by the professionals as kickoff approaches.

At the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas Jay Kornegay and his staff are offering more than 400 individual ways you can wager on one or more aspects of Super Bowl 51.

What began somewhat as a lark designed to draw publicity to one of the many ways the Super Bowl could be enjoyed – and, as it turns out, even at an unexpected cost – has become a major part of both the enjoyment of and betting action on the Super Bowl.

Betting on the props has increased season after season and has become a larger part of the overall handle each season with estimates that perhaps 50 to 60 percent of the handle at some books will be prop related.

Proposition wagers fall into several categories.

There are Head to Head Props which involve betting on one of two options such as whether the longest field goal made will be longer or shorter than, say, 45.5 yards or whether Tom Brady will or will not throw an interception. Some of these props are priced at -110 each way and others are priced with one half of the prop weighted more heavily depending on percentages assigned by the linesmakers. For example, since Brady rarely throws an interception the “no” is priced in the vicinity of -150 with the “yes” priced at roughly +130.

An offshoot of the head to head prop is the Tandem Prop. Actually these are two separate but related props. For example a popular prop over the years has been whether the first pass attempt for each QB will be either complete or incomplete (with an interception graded as an incompletion). Generally the ‘complete’ half of the prop is priced in the range of minus 170 to minus 200 with the “incomplete” priced at plus 140 to plus 170. If you play both props and take the “incomplete” price and win one and lost one you show a modest profit. The only way you lose would be if the first pass by each QB is complete.

The Multiple Option Props generally offer from 3 to 10 options such as picking the result for both the first half and the full game (i.e. Patriots lead at the half but lose the game). Generally each of the possible outcomes has a plus price attached but overall the edge, naturally, is with the Book.

Then there are the “Needle in a Haystack” props that usually involve 10 or more options but with only one possible result. Extreme examples of this type of prop would be to pick the exact number of points scored by the Falcons or which player, from a list of 30, will score the game’s first touchdown.

Finally there are multi-sport props often referred to as Crossover Props and is generally in the form of a head to head prop. These props involve an aspect of the Super Bowl matched against an aspect of another sport being played the same day or perhaps having been played the night before. Often the other sport involved will be the NBA, College Basketball, the NHL, the week’s PGA golf tournament or international soccer.

An example would be whether the total rushing yards by Atlanta will be greater or less than the total points scored by Toronto in their NBA game earlier that day at Brooklyn. 

While the crossover props are interesting and are often the subject of much conversation both in the Sports Book and in the media there are some notes of caution that should be addressed.

Two challenges must be noted about the crossover props. The most limited resource available to the handicapper/bettor is the time available to research the propositions regardless of the type or number. More specifically applicable to the crossover props is that the time resource is taxed even more as you are required, in essence, to handicap and research two different sports with, in addition, obviously to the football game, the sport of basketball (college and the NBA), golf, soccer and perhaps other sports as more creative props appear on the betting menu each year.

For the vast majority of Super Bowl bettors and viewers the props are a fun way to enjoy the final game of the NFL season. And the props can make for an entertaining experience as well when watching the game at a Sports Books when a huge cheer from a patron or two erupts after what appears to be a meaningless two yard gain on a first down play in the middle of the third quarter. That two yard gain likely resulted in a winning bet


Atlanta’s 540 points scored were 71 more than the second highest scoring team, New Orleans (469). Interestingly the Patriots were the third highest scoring team with 441.

New England allowed the fewest points this season, 250, which was 34 fewer than the second stingiest team, the Giants (284). Atlanta allowed 406, more than only 5 others and the most points allowed by any team that won at least 8 games.

A compelling case can be made for both teams. After all, if you have backed New England all season you have cashed 15 of 18 tickets including the Playoffs. And if you have backed the Falcons all season you have cashed 12 of 18 tickets. Over the second half of the season, beginning with Game 9, the Patriots are 9-1 SU, 8-2 ATS with a current streak of cashing 8 straight ATS wagers. Over the same period Atlanta is 8-2 SU, 7-3 ATS with ATS wins in 5 of their last 6 games including both Playoff wins.

If their regular season results are an indication this should be a cleanly played game with few, if any, turnovers. The Falcons and Patriots were tied in the regular season in committing just 11 turnovers, the fewest in the NFL. Atlanta did not commit a turnover in either of its Playoff wins over Seattle and Green Bay. 

Both teams fared well away from home although New England was a perfect 8-0 SU on the road. Atlanta was 6-2 SU on the road, losing at Seattle and Philadelphia. However both teams were an identical 7-1 ATS.

Only 4 of New England’s 16 wins were by single digits and two them were in games with out Brady – their 23-21 opening week win at Arizona and their 31-24 win the next week at home against Division foe Miami. Their other single digit wins were 22-17 at the Jets and 30-23 versus Baltimore. Their two losses were by 16 points in a home shutout loss to Buffalo in the final game without Brady and a 31-24 loss to Seattle in mid season, their last loss prior to their current 9 game winning streak.

Just 4 of Atlanta’s 13 wins were by single digits as were all 5 of the losses. Their largest margin of defeat was by 9 points in a 24-15 mid season loss at Philadelphia. Their 4 other losses were by 1, 2, 3 and 7 points and that 7 point loss was their opening week loss at home to Tampa Bay.

New England has a huge edge in experience with the combination of QB Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick in their seventh Super Bowl and the Patriots in their record setting ninth Super Bowl as a franchise. 

Forecast: New England/UNDER

Final score: Patriots, 27-23

In next week’s column, the final one for the 2016 season, a brief recap shall be presented along with a look towards the 2017 season for which Super Bowl and Conference odds have already been posted at most Sports Books. Enjoy the game!

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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